The Gerber Baby family welcomes Lucas Warren – a 1-year-old from Georgia who has Down Syndrome! He’s the first baby with Down Syndrome to become Gerber’s “Spokesbaby of the year” in its 91-year history.
Gerber Products Company is a baby food and baby product manufacturer. In 1928, the company held a competition to find a spokesbaby that would be featured in their marketing and advertising campaigns. Artist Dorothy Hope Smith entered the contest with a simple but beautiful baby face that is now recognized around the world. The drawing was also featured on baby products include food cans.
More recently, the company decided to launch an annual baby photo contest. In 2010, Gerber decided to start a new contest where parents are encouraged to submit adorable photos of their babies. Parents can submit photos on Facebook and Instagram of their star babies for review. Gerber receives thousands of photos each year and must select only one each year. Unlike the grand prize of $300 in 1928, the winning Gerber Baby wins a $50,000 cash prize.
In 2018, Lucas Warren won the Gerber Baby Photo Search and will now appear on Gerber’s social media and advertising throughout the year.
“This is such a proud moment for us as parents knowing that Lucas has a platform to spread joy, not only to those he interacts with every day, but to people all over the country,” Cortney Warren, Lucas’ mom said. “We hope this opportunity sheds light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have the potential to change the world — just like our Lucas.”
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, down syndrome is a genetic disorder which occurs when there is a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional chromosome alters the course of development and results in physical traits such as low muscle tone, small stature, and slanted eyes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6,000 babies in the United States are born with down syndrome, making this disorder the most common chromosomal condition for babies.
With Lucas becoming a national face for Gerber Baby, this will help educate others on down syndrome and help shed light on the special needs community.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a study conducted in 2015 found that over 6.6 million children have some type of special needs. While every child is different, the following are four major types of special needs children.
I.e., Muscular Dystrophy, Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy
A physical special needs disability is any condition that prevents normal body movement and control. While there are many different types of physical disabilities, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy are common. A child with muscular dystrophy will have weakened muscle fibers while a child with cerebral palsy will have brain damage. There are many causes of physical disabilities and include genetics, serious illness, spinal cord injury and brain damage.
Autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome
Developmental disabilities are generally detected early on because mental or physical impairments cause these disabilities. Common developmental disabilities are down syndrome and fragile x syndrome. Those who have down syndrome are born with an extra copy of chromosome 21, which affects brain and body development. Fragile X is another developmental disability that is thought to cause autism in boys.
Behavioral or Emotional
ADD, Bipolarized, Oppositional Defiant Disorder
A behavioral or emotional disability has many possible characteristics. Many include an inability to build or maintain interpersonal relationships, an inability to learn, and feelings of depression or anxiety. ADD is one common behavioral disability, which includes symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Bipolar disorder is a common emotional disability, which includes symptoms of depression, irritability, and distractibility.
Deaf or Limited Hearing, Blind or Visually Impaired
Sensory impairment disabilities are when one of the senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, spatial awareness) is not at the average functioning level. Common disabilities include limited hearing or visual impairment. While injury and infection can cause sensory impairment, genetics can also play a role.
Many children (and adults) have some type of special needs disability. The four major types of disabilities include physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional, and sensory impaired disorders. While many disabilities fall under one of these four umbrellas, many can fall under two or more.
Across the world, many special needs organizations are dedicated to helping those with medical, mental and psychological disabilities. While many of these are local organizations that work individually in their community, there are also many national organizations that can help assist those with special needs and their families. Many of the following groups provide support, education, advice, and advocacy for special needs and offer helpful resources.
Parent to Parent USA (P2P USA)
This organization partners a parent with another who has a child with the same disability, allowing families to share information and provide emotional support. P2P USA is a great way to not only build support but also build relationships that can last a lifetime.
The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project
M.O.R.G.A.N. stands for Making Opportunities Reality Granting Assistance Nationwide. The project aids families who raise children with special needs. The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project also provides help with expenses for families who need to travel for medical treatment or purchase equipment that are not covered by insurance.
Providing tools to make important decisions, Family Voices aims to provide information and support for special needs families. Family Voices specializes in healthcare and education decisions that families need to make. The organization also helps families learn how to advocate for better policies and empower those with disabilities.
Disabled Sports USA
Founded by injured Vietnam War family veterans, Disabled Sports USA is an organization dedicated to playing sports and having fun. The organization is open to anyone who has a permanent disability and wants to play games but is unable to in a standard setting. Disabled Sports USA is an excellent resource for special needs children and youth who want to get involved and be a part of a team.
One of the well-known special needs organization is Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports program for those with disabilities. This organization is similar to Disabled Sports USA because they also aim to help those with special needs to have fun, build courage, and improve both teamwork and communication. Check out this previous blog on how to get involved with Special Olympics.
Council for Exceptional Children
This organization is dedicated to improving special needs education. The Council of Exceptional Children advocates for proper governmental policies, provides professional development seminars and sets standards for those in the education history. This allows the group to improve those working with special needs children and thus enhances their educational support and development.
These are just five of the many organizations that aid in support for specials. To learn more, check out their individual websites.
Lisa Landman has a passion for helping others and has worked with special need adults throughout her career. Learn more about her professional workor check out her Twitter!
About Lisa Landman
Lisa Landman earned her doctorate in psychology from Fordham University in 2005. One of the reasons why Lisa pursued psychology is due to her interest in helping others. Throughout her life, Lisa has spent time helping the most vulnerable populations of society which includes animals. She and her husband have rescued six different dogs over the years, and Lisa volunteers with the Special Olympics. Lisa particularly cares about adults with disabilities since they’re a population that tends to face increased vulnerability as they age.
Recently, Lisa Landman worked as a Residential Coordinator at Bishop Grady Villas which describes itself as a “place where adults with disabilities are able to thrive and achieve their dreams” (Bishop Grady Villas Homepage). The best part of working at Bishop Grady was getting to know the residents. Lisa found each resident to be an amazing person with a huge heart, a caring attitude, and a wonderful personality. She particularly admired the residents’ attitudes toward life. Even with their daily struggles, they approached each day with optimism.
The most difficult aspect of working at Bishop Grady Villas was the lack of funding. A large amount of the residents are on the waitlist to receive benefits from the government which Lisa Landman finds unacceptable. If the residents can’t get government assistance, then their families must pay for them to live there. Sadly, there are many adults like the residents of Bishop Grady Villas who don’t have families to help them receive the sort of attention and care they need. This unfortunate reality is one of the reasons why Lisa is motivated to assist adults with disabilities as much as possible.
Lisa Landman served as an assistant basketball coach in early 2017. Helping the Bishop Grady residents during their weekly practices was a lot of fun. Seeing how much fun the residents have during games never failed to make Lisa smile. Lisa plans to assist with more Special Olympics events in the future. Since the Special Olympics is a nationwide organization, anyone can get involved. Helping adults with disabilities is a great way to spend one’s time, and Lisa encourages everyone she knows to get involved in some manner.
Over the years Lisa Landman has worked in a variety of areas such as human resources and teaching. For eleven years she owned a fitness center where she was involved in nearly every aspect of the business. Lisa’s diverse work experience means that she can thrive in nearly any work situation. She looks forward to continuing to pursue entrepreneurial projects while helping others at the same time.